Life has taught me that you can't get anything worth getting in politics without a bit of a fight. If you want transformative change, you're going to run into entrenched interests responsible for creating the very problems you're working to solve. And that's why Democratic Courage, the PAC I run, fought so hard for John Edwards -- he recognized that, when dealing with the Republicans and the corporate lobbyists, "you can't nice these people to death."
And it's also why -- up until now -- I've been reluctant to embrace Barack Obama's candidacy. For all his inspirational force, his talk of change, and his ability to inspire a movement, his record shows a reluctance to confront that in a conventional candidate would translate into crippling weakness.
But what I've learned is that Barack Obama is not a conventional candidate -- and that many of the rules that we apply to normal politics don't apply to him. Obama has taught me that hope -- the pure, 99.44 kind he offers -- can be such a powerful emotion that it can prevail even against a real progressive fighter like Hillary Clinton; how much more so can it prevail against a man like John McCain, who's is committed to perpetuating his past failures: the Iraq War, failed campaign finance reform that brought more big money into politics, and disastrous immigration policy.
It is Obama's hope and his intuitive ability to translate emotion into action that is allowing him to build a real movement -- a movement more powerful than any we've seen in modern progressive politics.
It's true that right now that movement is about little more than electing Barack Obama -- and all the vague hopes and dreams that he represents. But regardless of what it's about, that movement does represent the kind of power that could really produce change if Obama -- and all of us together -- steer it in a progressive, courageous, and winning direction.
But as we put Obama at the head of our movement, we should know some things about our leader. Barack won't create change through intimidation, backroom deals, or even the kind of attacks necessary even in this new era of positivity -- all the traditional paths to power. Instead, he will inspire people to do it for him -- and for themselves. We will be his warriors and he our philosopher-king. We're going to have to be the ones clawing it out in the cloakrooms, on the pavement, and with the media. We're going to be the ones who will provide the backbone the Obama movement needs to succeed against all the forces arrayed against it. Obama's election will make change possible, but it will be up to us to make it real.
So let's get started.